Hampton Rodriguez: The magical world of transit ticket art
For many riders, transit serves a simple purpose: trips for groceries, school, work and other destinations. But for Portland-based artist Hampton Rodriguez, transit is a conduit to inspiration for creating art.
The self-described urban artist is originally from the Dominican Republic, and has lived in Portland for more than two decades. He’s taken countless rides on MAX and buses, collecting TriMet paper tickets that he’s using to create vibrant original artwork inspired by famous people and the people of Portland. The repurposed TriMet tickets serve as the media for hand-painted portraits featuring well-known people, from Frida Kahlo to Albert Einstein and Celia Cruz to Gene Simmons from KISS, and they’re incredibly cool.
We recently visited Hampton at his Bohio studio in SE Portland to learn more about the TriMet paper ticket project and his passion for art.
Please tell us about yourself.
I create art mostly from recycled materials, using acrylic, mixed media and collage techniques on canvas and other materials. I use discarded magazines, postcards, advertisements and promotional materials in my work and utilize the subliminal messages contained within them. I create a fusion between painting and background materials, and I enjoy the interplay between my creations and the collage imagery I have chosen.
Do you ride TriMet often?
I consistently ride TriMet. I use it to take me places such as the grocery store. I ride MAX and bus lines 9, 14, 4 and 71.
This isn’t the first time you’ve created art for transit. Tell us about your most recent art project with TriMet.
(Earlier) this year, I worked with TriMet on a bus design for Black History Month. I created a Rosa Parks-themed bus.
Why did you create this TriMet ticket art project?
I was looking for a way to express my creative process. I wanted to show the connection between transportation and how it is connected to repurposing; they both also represent the city of Portland. This project also represents the people of Portland.
So, how did you get this idea?
Seeing people around Portland! I wanted to create pieces that were unique but also represented a very important part of Portland: TriMet!
How many have you created, and will you create more?
I have created more than 500 of these painted TriMet tickets. My goal is to make 1,000 and have them all for sale at an art show. If you’re interested in seeing what I’ve created so far, please come to the studio for the Oregonian Lottery night on March 4. We’re hosting a free, fun “lotería” game night with prizes. People can purchase the painted tickets then, too.
Describe how you create the transit ticket artwork.
I use acrylic, mixed media and crayons. I either take inspiration from people I see around the city or influential people to Portland. People I see on the MAX, people walking on the street, people waiting in line, people relaxing at a coffee shop. Really, people anywhere.
Where can people see your other work, and do you have art shows often?
I have a studio in SE Portland, right on Powell Boulevard. I try to have multiple art shows every year. Each one has a theme. People can also see my work on social media, such as Instagram or Facebook.
Also, make sure to be on the lookout for a special TriMet bus with Hampton’s artwork honoring the legacy of Rosa Parks. The piece depicts her arrest, the struggle to end segregation and the freedom she achieved, through equal access to public transportation. It debuted in January and will be in service through the year.
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